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Effect Of Greenland Melt On Sea Level

August 27, 2018

By Paul Homewood


There was one more thing that I meant to include in the Greenland ice sheet post yesterday, the effect on sea levels.

DMI like to talk in terms of Gt, which I’m sure sounds very impressive.

However, when converted into sea level rise, it becomes distinctly less so:

Based on this data, it can be seen that during the period 2003-2011 the Greenland Ice Sheet has lost 234 km3 of water per year, corresponding to an annual contribution to the mean increase in sea level of 0.65 mm


So even during this period of recent melt, we are only talking of 0.65mm a year, or about two inches a century.

We know that global sea levels were rising just as fast as now in the mid 20thC, so it seems unlikely that much has changed on the Greenland ice sheet since the 1930s.

And, of course, we also know that ice mass is probably increasing in Antarctica.

  1. August 27, 2018 1:45 pm

    we are only talking of 0.65mm a year, or about two inches a century

    And no guarantee that the claimed rate will be maintained.

  2. August 27, 2018 2:13 pm

    Meanwhile, the Northwest Passage is ice bound.

  3. ben Dussan permalink
    August 27, 2018 4:18 pm

    Any idea about the total amount of snow/ice on Greenland?

    • dave permalink
      August 27, 2018 5:29 pm

      “Any idea…?”

      Three million cubic kilometers,

      or, in terms of the basic SI unit,

      three million million kilograms

      or, in scientific notation,

      3 x 10^12 kg.

      Antarctica has roughly ten times as much.

      • ben Dussan permalink
        August 27, 2018 7:52 pm

        Thanks Dave.
        Or, at the “current” melting rate of 234 cubic km/year it would take over 12,000 years for a complete meltdown of Greenland, with a corresponding sea rise of a bit over 8 meters provided that Antarctica’s and other snow capped mountains’ ice would not rise…..

  4. August 28, 2018 12:20 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  5. August 28, 2018 3:03 pm

    Regarding Greenland ice cap, here is a fine article on the “Lost Squadron” forced to land on the glacier in 1942. Aviation enthusiasts are excavating the 100 meters of ice now covering those planes to recover them for museaums and air shows. And yes, they are using drones to find them under the ice.*

  6. gallopingcamel permalink
    August 29, 2018 5:30 am

    Willy Soon has a great sense of humor. He points out that you need “Context” when discussing the melting of continental ice.

    The DMI estimates that the annual Greenland melting is 234 km^3 (aka 234 giga-tonnes). When you include all the other continental ice the most extreme rate of melting in the IPCC AR5 is 300 giga-tonnes per year because the Antarctic is gaining ice.

    Let’s make the (highly unlikely) assumption that the rate of melting will remain constant. With that assumption how long will it take to melt all the ice so that the planet looks like it did 55 million years ago during the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum)?

    Given that the ice inventory is 30 million giga-tonnes you will have to wait 100,000 years to melt it all. The corresponding sea level rise will be about 120 feet.

    • dave permalink
      August 29, 2018 7:05 am

      I think that many people have a sort of ice-cream-cone mental image of the ice-caps; that, with a little warmth, they could simply slip off their foundations and plop into the water.

  7. dave permalink
    August 29, 2018 7:46 am

    Further to this matter of mental image, a communicator must guess what goes through the head of his interlocutor. For example, there was a perfectly accurate report two weeks ago that the melt in Greenland was 40%. Now, we know what is meant; that, over 40% of the surface, at least one mm. of ice turned into water that day because of the sun’s direct rays. But some silly ass in the BBC may actually think that “40% of all the ice” had liquified and this was because it was “warm,” and thus start up a story-line. At some point somebody with a little more sense will check. But the silly ass will resent this and STILL somehow get out a story about “nearly half the ice” being in a melting condition. He will just have to spin it with a start of “Scientists forecast…”

    Can anybody get me a job in the BBC? I have just realized I can churn out their spin in my sleep – and I will work for chocolate!

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      August 29, 2018 8:53 pm

      BBC, here we go again, another Polar Bear attack death.

      The grain of truth that slipped through:

      “They had been blocked in by sea ice that was making it dangerous to navigate out to open water and leave the area.”

      Turns into:

      “…likely to be caused by hungry male bears…”


      “…but warned a loss of sea ice habitat and increased interaction with humans could increase their frequency…”

      Surely it’s just as likely that ample ice and high bear numbers could be allowing increased bear mobility and human interactions?

      • dave permalink
        August 30, 2018 7:49 am

        You almost have to admire the effortless way they move back to their comfort zone!

        Proverbs 26:11 applies:

        As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his foolishness.


        We were kind of promised an El Nino this year but, judging by the temperature in the “diagnostic zone,” it is looking less likely:

  8. dave permalink
    August 31, 2018 8:41 am

    Widespread snow. yesterday:

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